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Prescriptive vs. Development Advising

The following selection is taken directly from Drew Appleby's article, "The Teaching-Advising Connection-Part III," in The Mentor: An Academic Advising Journal (March 19, 2001).

This table reveals a variety of ways in which [prescriptive and developmental] advising differ, but the major thread that runs throughout these differences is that developmental advisers gradually shift the responsibility of the relationship to their advisees and prepare them for this shift by
  • providing them with problem-solving and decision-making skills,
  • challenging them to develop higher-order thought processes, and
  • helping them gain clearer insight into their own goals as well as the goals of higher education.
[Good advising incorporates the best of both prescriptive and developmental advising; a good advisor knows when to be prescriptive and when to use developmental techniques to be advise the student.]

TABLE TWO: Contrasting Dimensions of Prescriptive and Developmental Approaches to Advising
  Prescriptive Advising
Developmental Advising
Crookston's Dimensions
Focus is on limitations (i.e., the adviser uses student's past performance to predict future obstacles). Focus is on potentialities (i.e., the adviser uses past performance and current aspirations to anticipate potential).
Students are viewed as passive, lazy, irresponsible, and in need of help and prodding. Students are viewed as competent, striving, and active seekers of information.
Students are motivated by grades, credit, income, and parental threats. Students are motivated by mastery, achievement, recognition, status, and fulfillment.
Students are immature, irresponsible, and must be closely supervised. Students are responsible, maturing, and capable of self-direction.
Adviser takes initiative on fulfilling requirements; any additional advising is initiated by the student. Either the adviser or the advisee can initiate advising.
Adviser is the authority and is in control. Control is shared and negotiated.
Responsibility Adviser's responsibility is to provide advice and the advisee's responsibility is to act upon the adviser's advice. Responsibility is negotiated and/or shared.
Learning Output Student learns from the adviser. Both the student and the adviser learn and develop.
Evaluation Adviser evaluates the advisee's progress. Evaluation is an adviser/student collaboration.
Relationship A formal relationship exists between adviser (authority) and student (dependent), which is based on status, strategies, games, and a low level of trust. The adviser/student relationship is informal, flexible, situational, and based on a high level of trust.
  Prescriptive Advising
Developmental Advising
Appleby's Dimensions
To deliver accurate information to as many students as possible in as efficient a manner as possible.. To develop mentoring relationships with students that will enable them to continue to develop personally, academically, and professionally after the formal adviser-advisee relationship has ended.
Ultimate Goal
The ultimate goal of advising is to enable students to earn diplomas and graduate "on time." The ultimate goal of advising is to enable students to clarify their future goals and to plan strategies to accomplish their goals.
In the adviser's office. Anywhere (e.g., in the adviser's office, in the hall, on a campus bench, at a basketball game, in the student union or cafeteria, etc.).
The future refers to next semester. The future refers to post-baccalaureate opportunities.
Course Rationale
Courses are taken to "get them out of the way." Courses are taken to develop knowledge, skills, and characteristics.
Curricular/Co-curricular Emphasis
The emphasis is on curricular activities (i.e., classes). Emphasis is on both curricular and co-curricular activities (e.g., membership in organizations and volunteer activities).
Strength/Weakness Emphasis Emphasis is on hiding weaknesses and using strengths to bolster GPA. Emphasis is on recognizing what skills will be necessary to accomplish future goals, strengthening those that are weak and continuing to build those that are strong.
Questions Addressed What courses do I have to take? Who is teaching them? When are they offered? How difficult are they? Do you have to write a paper? Is there a lot of reading? What can I do with a degree in psychology? Why are statistics and experimental psychology important classes? What classes can I take after English Composition to strengthen my writing skills?
Culpability The advisee assumes the adviser is responsible for negative consequences if errors occur.
The advisee understands that she/he is ultimately responsible for negative consequences if errors in advising occur.
Delivery System(s) Single delivery system (one-on-one meeting in the adviser's office). Multiple delivery systems (e.g., e-mail, telephone, classes, seminars, workshops, group sessions, alumni panels, handbooks, and peer advisers/mentors).
Curricular Understanding A student "understands" the curriculum when she knows what classes she must take and when to take them. A student "understands" the curriculum when she realizes how she will change as a result of completing classes and how these changes will enable her to accomplish her post-baccalaureate goals.
Stability/Change The advising process remains constant as the student progresses from freshman to senior. The advising process changes in response to the developmental needs of students as they progress from freshmen to seniors (i.e., different questions are addressed).
Thinking Skills Involved Retention (e.g., what courses to take, sequence of courses, number of credit hours for graduation, etc.). Comprehension (e.g., Why do I have to take physiological psychology? I want to be a counselor, not a biopsychologist.) Application (e.g., How can I graduate if I have three semesters of classes to go and only two semesters of financial aid left?) Analysis (e.g., How can I satisfy the requirements of General Education and how do all the requirements fit together?) Synthesis (e.g., What electives should I take to help me work with unwed pregnant teenagers?) Evaluation (e.g., Is clinical psychology an attainable career for me?)
View of Electives Electives are courses that are easy, fun, can raise GPA, and are offered at convenient times. Electives are courses that enable students to expand upon the knowledge they gain in their required courses and to "construct" themselves as unique individuals who are different from other undergraduates with the same degree.
Rule Orientation The adviser attempts to make sure that advisees follow all rules and procedures to the letter. The adviser will attempt to bend rules and procedures if such accommodations are in the best educational interest of the student.
Appropriate Topics The adviser sticks to academic advising and avoids giving personal or career advice. Many topics can be broached and discussed during advising sessions, as long as they fall within the competence of the adviser.
Skill Development
Emphasis is on passing skill courses (e.g., Statistics) to "get them out of the way" rather than on actually acquiring and retaining the skills they teach. The development of skills is stressed in a way that allows advisees to understand the value of the skills they will acquire and how the sequence of the curriculum will require them to build upon these skills.
Personal Insight
Not stressed after an advisee has decided upon a major. Personal insight is a driving force during all advising sessions (e.g., "Do you still want to be a clinical psychologist?").
Curricular Rationale It is unnecessary for advisers to explain to advisees why they must take certain classes, other than that these courses are required for graduation. (Assumption: Advisees are only interested in what classes they should take, not why they should take them or how they will be changed as a result of taking them). One of an adviser's most important roles is to enable advisees to comprehend the rationale behind classes they will take and the way these classes are sequenced. (Assumption: Advisees are more likely to involve themselves in classes they know will enable them to accomplish their goals and will attempt to retain and strengthen the skills these goals require.), retrieved 3/13/06